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Why Cats Should Not Be Declawed

Updated on September 27, 2011

I was sitting in the vetenarian waiting room with my cat, Ramona a few years ago. She was still a kitten and due for her shots. Straight ahead of me was a window that led into the room where surgeries were being performed. I watched a cat get declawed. I don't know why there would be a window in the waiting room looking into the surgery room or why the blinds weren't shut. All I knew is that I couldn't look away.

"So that's what declawing a cat is like, huh?" I asked the receptionist.

"Well, sort of," she said, "That cat was declawed at a free shelter and they messed up. The cat's claws started growing back."

I squirmed a bit. That poor cat must have been in so much pain. Finally, the cat was taken out of surgery. I could see her moving a bit. Oh, I hope she's not waking up yet.. I thought to myself. I am not sure if she did or not. The room was finally empty.

Shortly afterwards, a young woman entered the waiting room. "Ramona?" she called.

That was us. I got up and with my cat in tow, I walked into the room. Ramona's vet was the same woman who was performing the surgery I just witnessed. She was looking at Ramona's chart as I struggled to get my scared little kitten out of her carrier.

"You aren't planning to declaw her are you?" The vet asked me.

"No." I responded.

"Good." She said.

The rest of the visit went okay. We went home and still mad about the vet, Ramona spitefully refused to acknowledge my presence for the rest of the day.

I thought about the cat that was being declawed. I hoped she was okay and I wished her owners could have been in the waiting room witnessing what I was. After all I was taught about cats and all that I learned over the years, I couldn't believe in this day and age, people were still declawing their cats.

Why Declawing is Wrong

In the United States, declawing cats is a common procedure. Most Americans do not know that declawing cats is illegal in Europe, Brazil, Portugal, Japan and Australia. In fact, the US is the only country where declawing is commonly performed on a cat.

The reason why so many countries have outlawed declawing is because it is inhumane. Declawing is actually an amputation procedure. Not only are the claws removed but so are the top of the cat's toes and first knuckle of each joint. Also removed are the ligament and tendon. This is very painful for a cat and some experience pain the rest of their lives. Following surgery, many complications can arise such as infection, hemorrhaging and nail regrowth.

A cat that is declawed has little chance of surviving if outside. Declawed cats cannot defend themselves against other animals. Cats can also develop behavioral problems, such as biting, aggression and litterbox issues.

What About My Furniture?

I used to volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter. Like many shelters, ours was against declawing and we were to make sure anybody who wanted to adopt would not declaw their new pet. Many people who argued would say they did not want their furniture destroyed. Personally, I think if you care more about your furniture than your pet, then maybe a cat is not the right pet for you.

There are ways to keep your cat and her claws off your furniture. Fill up a spray bottle with water and spray the cat if she attempts to scratch your posessions. Scratching posts are necessary. Everyone who has cats should have at least one scratching post. If the cat tries to scratch your furniture, simply pick her up and take her over to the scratching post. Sprinkle some cat nip on the scratching post to entice your cat even more. Cats are intelligent. They usually figure out pretty quickly what's okay to scratch and what isn't.

You can also try no scratch sprays and two-sided tape on your furniture. You can find these items at your local pet store.

Trim only ends of claws, never trim passed the quick.
Trim only ends of claws, never trim passed the quick. | Source

Why Cats Scratch and How To Trim Claws

There are actually a number of reason why a cat scratches. First of all it's a natural instinct. At the shelter, declawed cats that were brought in would scratch their 'imaginary' claws. Scratching also removes the dead outer layer of the claws (called the sheath). If there is more than one cat in your household, a cat will scratch to mark their territory or to show dominance. It's also a form of play and scratching feels good to the cat, sort of like stretching.

It's important to take care of your cat's claws. Front claws should be clipped once a month. It will help to prevent any damage your cat may do in the home. Back claws do not need to be clipped since cats rarely use their hind paws. You can use human nail clippers or clippers designed especially for cats. Either works fine, just make sure you are using sharp clippers.

Make sure your cat is very relaxed and sleepy before attempting to clip. Pick up one paw and gently press the toe pad. You'll notice that the cat's claws extend when you do that. Clip only the top part of the claws. Never clip in the pink area (called the quick). Clipping too close to this area will cause pain and bleeding.

Clipping claws can be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes two people are needed to hold the cat down. Others may just give up and leave it to the groomers or vet to do.

Thankfully, Declawing is a Dying Trend

Professionals are much more educated on the long term effects of declawing an animal than ever before. More and more vetenarians are now refusing to declaw cats. Many shelters, like the one I volunteered for, train their volunteers on how to discuss declawing and cat care with potential adopters. The Humane Society and animal rights organizations have been doing an excellent job in bringing awareness to the public about declawing.

Still, there are thousands of cats being declawed each year. About 70% of cats that are turned into shelters due to behavioral problems were also declawed.

Educating people is the key to ending this inhumane practice. Not only is declawing wrong, it's not necessary. People started declawing their cats in the 1960s. Indoor cats have been around a lot longer than that. Start training your cat when she's young and you shouldn't have any problems with scratching.

Do you want to learn more about cats and different cat breeds? Check out my other hub on cats!


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    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 

      6 years ago from USA

      I never knew that declawing was such a divisive issue or how much was involved until I started reading hubs about it. I have had cats throughout my life and I have never had a cat declawed (or fixed either). My vet worked hard to persuade me to have both done on one cat I brought him. I had an appointment set up for both procedures until my wife found out how much it was going to cost. That was the end of that idea! What you have written is a persuasive case to not get your cat declawed. Also, my wife has told me about a kitten that she had when she was young which was declawed and which did suffer quite a bit from it.

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      I'm glad you found this too Nat. It's surprising to me to know that so many people still don't realize the dangers of declawing. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Nat Amaral profile image

      Nat Amaral 

      7 years ago from BC Canada

      A wonderful hub and very educational. I came pretty close to declawing a pet cat once. Thankfully, I ended up researching the subject before going ahead with the procedure. I was told that 'they get rid of the claw from the bone' and that statement alone was what changed my mind. Nonetheless, you provided me with more information with this article. Thank you so much.

    • ArgentinaDanila profile image


      7 years ago

      Cats need their claws to defend themselves and to help them hunt and climb efficiently. They naturally like to scratch their claws regularly to sharpen them. This is normal cat behaviour that they would miss doing if declawed. It is best not to do it.

      Simply have them trimmed down.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i have one declawed cat and my kitten the declawed cat hates people and will attack anyone when my kitten loves people and loves playing i only trim my kittens nails so he does not cut himself when scratching. i think the owners before me with the declawed cat should of just trimed the claws

    • whoisbid profile image


      7 years ago

      I have never seen a declawed cat . This is definitely an eye opener. Thanks.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      7 years ago from Summerland

      I also disagree with declawing cats. A scratching post by their litter box and food bowls always worked for us. Our cat never claws at the furniture...but if he was to get outside, how horrible for him to try to defend himself or catch any food? Definitely inhumane and wrong to declaw cats. Voted up and awesome!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      Great hub, I have three cats and could never even think of de-clawing them, no matter how much they might scratch my furniture. There are other ways to deal with scratching. Voted Up and Interesting! Thanks for sharing...

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Littlepayday,

      Most of us grew up believing that declawing was not only okay but something that had to be done. Don't feel bad about not knowing. I'm glad you found my hub!

      Hi Sweeti,

      Thank you for sharing your story. That truly is heartbreaking about your cat. No animal should have to go through that. I hope she made a fast recovery.

    • xXSweetiXx profile image


      7 years ago from The Pacific Northwest

      I adopted a cat, that was declawed prior to us getting her. Unfortunately, one claw did grow back,causing a horribly swollen toe, as fragments of the nail were exposed. The vet pulled 26 pieces of nail out of the infected, swollen toe before taking her to surgery for a re-declaw. The whole experience was heart breaking. Thanks for the post! And for sharing with many, what a declaw really is!

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Blairtracy, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Erin, It's great to know that there are cats at the nursing home you work at and they are not declawed. I'm sure that they are wonderful cats too! Thanks for sharing!

    • ErinPittman profile image


      7 years ago

      Terrific post. I agree wholeheartedly. I work in a nursing home where we have two resident cats who rarely scratch anyone. I am appalled at the number of people who are shocked that we have not had them declawed. I have always clipped their claws and all works out just fine. :)

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Nspeel, first congrats on your new kitten! I'm glad you read my hub. There are still many people who don't know what declawing really does to a cat. Kittens are much easier to train than adult cats. Try some double sided tape on your furniture. I found that to be very helpful. Thanks for reading!

    • Nspeel profile image


      7 years ago from Myrtle Beach

      I had an appointment to get my kitten declawed and I can honestly say I was sadly one of them furniture people you speak of. I DID NOT know how it actually went down that is horrible and I can insure you my kittens appointment was cancelled. Great hub voted up. I love your work

    • blairtracy profile image

      Tracy B 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Great hub. And I totally agree with you. I could never declaw my cat. Just like I couldn't dock my dogs tails.

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you Samhirata! You make an excellent point about dogs. Dogs do a lot of damage but nobody would ever think to remove a dog's nails. I wonder why that is.

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Lucky Cats,

      Thank you for reading and thinking so highly about my hub. I appreciate that you shared it too. It's my hope that people can learn from it. :)

      Maralexa, you are so right, it's a disgusting and cruel thing to do to a pet that you are supposed to love. I truly believe that most people who opt to have their cat declawed have little knowledge of what they are really doing to their kitties. Thanks for commenting :)

      tlmcgaa70 - That just makes my heart break to think of those poor cats that have to walk with so much pain. It's amazing to me that the vet didn't stitch up the cat, especially considering the way he amputated the poor little cat. Thank you for sharing your story. Hope people read it and learn from it.

      Peggy, you sound a lot like me. I also have scratching posts, boxes and a couple cardboard pieces. My cat Bailey loves sleeping on those cardboards too! My cats never scratch. Ramona used to but she learned, however if I'm ignoring her she will 'attempt' to scratch the couch but never does any real damage. It's her way of getting my attention and it works! She's a smart one! Thanks for reading.

    • samhirata profile image


      7 years ago

      This is so educating! It makes sense why if you wouldn't declaw a dog you wouldn't declaw a cat! Great information!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Both of our indoor cats have their claws and even though rescued at older ages well beyond kitten stage, they do not claw the furniture. We do provide them a scratching post and also a cardboard piece purchased at the pet store that they both love. They scratch on it and also nap on it. They also love empty boxes and we have several in the house. Thanks for spreading the word about this barbaric practice of declawing cats. Up and useful!

    • tlmcgaa70 profile image


      7 years ago from south dakota, usa

      wonderful post. i was a vet tech at one time, that is where i learned about declawing and decided i would never declaw a cat of mine. i watched as the vet took a pair of nail clippers (the kind you clip dog nails with) and cut off the last toe joint at the knuckle of each toe. then i was amazed because he did not stitch it up...he applied a kind of super glue made for use on flesh. then he wrapped the paws. when the cat woke up it was in pain. it would have to stand on those feet, walk on the, use its litter box with them. i have heard people say cats dont really need that last toe, so what the big response was how would you know, have you ever been a cat? the last toe and its claws are vital to a cat...if this were not true, GOD would not have given them the toe and claws to begin with. thank you for writing this hub.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 

      7 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      amymarie, thanks for this much needed hub!

      Declawing is absolutely discusting! It is a wonder that vets are allowed to perform it.

      It is the beginning of the end for a cat no matter what its age.

      If a pet 'owner' is so concerned about their own convenience rather than the pet's welfare, then they simply shouldn't have the pet in the first place.

      This is without any exaggeration one of the cruelest things we can do to an animal! STOP IT!

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi amymarie_5. What a great hub. You are doing a wonderful service to all those cats who might have ended up declawed. This should be a must read for anyone who wishes to adopt a cat...most of us would NEVER declaw but, for those who don't realize how detrimental it is to the kitty, your article should be made into a brochure which are available in Veterinary offices for those considering this procedure. bad Bad Bad all the way around; declawing is one of the most unnecessary convenience procedures there is. UP Useful Interesting and Awesome. and shared on FB!


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